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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

4 things that might make your therapist stop your massage

4 reasons why your therapist could stop your massage

1. You are sick

Short Answer: Even though massage may be the thing that always makes you feel better, if you are sick, have a fever, or have obvious symptoms of illness, your massage therapist may cancel your appointment. Some illness can be a contraindication for massage, while in some cases, massage may make the illness worse. Plus you could be putting the therapist and other clients at risk, and that’s just mean.

More details: Flu and other illness can cause body ache and general feeling of 'blech', so massage would seem like an obvious solution to feel better. Unfortunately because if the body is ill or fighting an illness, many systems are already working overtime, and a massage can exhaust those systems more than they need to be, and put extra strain on the liver, kidneys, and other organs. Plus, it could actually make symptoms worse. Not to mention, that even though every client is important, a therapist has to take into account the safety of all their clients, so someone who is sick who could pass on illness to other clients, staff, or even the therapist themself (who then could have their income and business jeopardized if they are unable to work), should not be seen.

4 reasons why your therapist could stop your massage

2. They see something like a wound, or other mark that would make massage contraindicated

Short answer: Sometimes there is stuff on our bodies that we either don’t think is a big deal or we don’t even know it is there. However, for massage it could be a problem. If something is found or seen, the massage may need to be stopped until the strange thing is checked out so that it can’t cause any more harm.

More details: Bruises and paper cuts happen, and are not usually a cause for worry or concern. However deep, serious bruises, open wounds, or other injuries are not advised to be worked on during a massage. Sometimes an area can be worked around, however sometimes a massage is just not a good idea. Blood clots in the legs are one example. Sometimes a strange mark or lump may not seem like a big deal, but if that lump or mark turns out to be something like a blood clot, massage can cause more problems and make something that seems like nothing into something very serious. Now, massage therapists are not allowed to diagnose a problem, but they can trust their gut and follow protocols and that may result in your whole massage being stopped until the odd something that was found has been checked out and cleared so that the massage will not cause any more harm.

4 reasons why your therapist could stop your massage

3. You appear to be drunk, under the influence, or not in your right mind

Short answer: In some states it is illegal to work on someone who is not fully in charge of their faculties. Also, a massage while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can cause problems ranging from injuries to lawsuits.

More details: So why is it illegal? Basically, before a massage therapist can lay hands on someone, they need to obtain consent to do so, otherwise, they could be charged with assault. If someone is drunk or high, they are not considered legally to be in their right mind, and therefore unable to give consent. So even if they sign all the correct paperwork, then the therapist could still be charged. From a health perspective, alcohol and drugs can dull pain tolerances so the client may not be able to tell and communicate if a massage therapist is working too deeply, or stretching beyond their tolerance, and can therefore cause an injury. Massage also increases circulation and can affect organs, so the liver, kidneys, and an upset stomach can all be affected negatively by the increased pushing, moving, and circulation, and nobody wants to deal with the result of any of that making you feel worse.

4 reasons why your therapist could stop your massage

4. A “happy ending” joke or other lewd comment

Short answer: Massage Therapists are trained, licensed, medical professionals. Even though pop culture likes to portray massage as all about sex, the majority of legal therapists are not amused, and even less tolerant of the risk of assault by clients who think that is the “norm”, so ANY suggestion that a massage should include anything other than therapy will likely result in a termination of the session.

More details: Even though places do exist that provide "services" beyond massage therapy in the guise of massage, these places are often illegal, with therapists that do not have legal training and licensure, and are very often fronts for human trafficking and forcible slave labor. Solicitation of services of a sexual nature is the definition of soliciting for prostitution, and that is not why massage therapy exists, and not the reason why most therapists get into the profession in the first place. Sadly the stigma of the bad often outweighs the good. I personally have extended family members who believe "based on religious reasons" that what I do is a form of prostitution, and they refuse to accept the medical training I have and the fact that I am licensed, trained, and work in a medical office as proof that that is not so. (They also dismiss when I fight fire with fire and bring up their "religious reasons" and remind them that Christ healed people through the laying on of hands - but people will believe what they chose to believe.) Nonetheless, the stigma exists, and massage therapists have to fight harder than any other profession to prove that they are legitimate, trained, licensed medical professionals who's goal is to heal people. Unfortunately a large number of the human population like to dismiss this legitimacy as a joke, and chose to focus on the darker side of the profession, which leads to uncomfortable situations, and even therapists running the risk of being assaulted by clients when they don't get what they "came for". This is why many therapists have Zero Tolerance policies and will take even something that may have been meant as a joke very seriously.

4 reasons why your therapist could stop your massage

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